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58 Blgomsbu. ^ikeet, London, W.^. a 

First Published May, 1939 

Distributed in Canada by our exclusive agents 
The Maanillan Company of Canada Ltd,, 
70 Bond Street, Toronto 


chap. page 
Introduction ..... i 

I. The Church and the State as they Con- 

front One Another . . .13 

II. The Essence of the State . . .23 

III. The Significance of the State for the 

Church 37 

IV. The Service which the Church Owes 

to the State . . . .62 


The original German edition of this booklet is published 
under the title of Rechtfertigung und Kecht (Justification 
and Justice) as Volume I of the Theologischen Studien by 
the Evangelische Buchhandlung, Zollikon, Switzerland. 

We should like to express our gratitude to Miss Olive 
Wyon for valuable assistance in the revision of the trans- 

For convenience the Notes are printed together at the 

THE title ^Justification and Justice' 9 
indicates the question with which I am 
dealing in this work. 

First of all, I will state the question thus: 
Is there a connection between the justification 
of the sinner through faith alone, completed 
once for all by God through Jesus Christ, and 
the problem of justice, the problem of human 
law? Is there an inward and vital connection 
by means of which in any sense human justice 
(or law), as well as divine justification, becomes 
a concern of Christian faith and Christian 
responsibility, and therefore also a matter 
which concerns the Christian Church? But 
we may clearly ask the same question with refer- 
ence to other conceptions; take the problem 
of order, for instance, of that order which is no 
longer, or not yet, the Order of the Kingdom 
of God; or the problem of peace, which is no 
longer, or not yet, the eternal Peace of God; 
or the problem of freedom, which is no longer, 
or not yet, the freedom of the Children of God 



— do all these problems belong to the realm of 
the "new creation" of Man through the Word 
of God, do they all belong to his sanctification 
through the Spirit? Is there, in spite of all 
differences, an inner and vital connection be- 
tween the service of God in Christian living 
indicated in James i. 27 and what we are 
accustomed to call "Divine Service 5 ' in the 
worship of the Church as such, and another 
form of service, what may be described as a 
' 'political' ' service of God, a service of God 
which, in general terms, would consist in the 
careful examination of all those problems which 
are raised by the existence of human justice, 
of law, or, rather, which would consist in the 
recognition, support, defence and extension of 
this law — and all this, not in spite of but 
because of divine justification? In what sense 
can we, may we and* must we follow Zwingli, 
who, in order to distinguish them and yet to 
unite them, speaks in the same breath of 
' 'divine and human justice' ' ? 

It should be noted that the interest in this 
question begins where the interest in the 
Reformation confessional writings and Refor- 


mation theology as a whole ceases, or rather, to 
put it more exactly, where it begins to fade (1). 
The fact that both realities exist: divine justi- 
fication and human justice, the proclamation of 
Jesus Christ, faith in Him and the office and 
authority of the secular power, the mission of 
the Church and the mission of the State, the 
hidden life of the Christian in God and also his 
duty as a citizen — all this has been clearly and 
powerfully emphasized for us by the Reformers. 
And they also took great pains to make it clear 
that the two are not in conflict, but that they 
can very well exist side by side, each being 
competent in its own sphere. But it must be 
strongly emphasized that on this point they do 
not by any means tell us all that we might have 
expected — not excepting Luther in his work 
Of Worldly Authority of 15-23 or Calvin in the 
majestic closing chapters of 'his Institution Clearly 
we need to know not only that the two are not 
in conflict, but, first and foremost, to what 
extent they are connected. To this question, 
the question as to the relationship between that 
which they maintained here (with the greatest 
polemical emphasis), and the centre of their 


Christian message, we receive from the Re- 
formers either no answer at all, or, at the best, 
a very inadequate answer. Whatever our atti- 
tude may be to the content of that last chapter 
of the Institution "De Volitica Administratione " 
(and, so far as we are concerned, we are pre- 
pared to take a very positive position), this at 
least is clear, that as we look back on the earlier 
parts of the work, and in particular on the 
second and third books and their cardinal 
statements about Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, 
sin and grace, faith and repentance, we feel 
like a traveller, suddenly transported to a 
distant land, who is looking back at the country 
from which he started. For on the question 
of how far the politica administratio in the title 
of the fourth book belongs to the externis mediis 
vel adminiculis quibus Deus in Christi societatem 
nos invitat et in ea retinet we shall find only the 
most scattered instruction, for all the richness 
which the book otherwise contains. But the 
same is true of the corresponding theses of 
Luther and Zwingli, and of those of the Lutheran 
and Reformed Confessional writings. That 
authority and law rest on a particular ordinatio 


of divine providence, necessary on account of 
unconquered sin, serving to protect humanity 
from the most concrete expressions and con- 
sequences of that sin, and thus to be accepted 
by humanity with gratitude and honour — these 
are certainly true and biblical thoughts, but 
they are not enough to make clear the relation- 
ship between this issue and the other, which 
the Reformation held to be the decisive and 
final issue of faith and confession. What does 
Calvin mean when, on the one hand, he assures 
us: "spirituale Christi regnum et civilem ordina- 
tionem res esse plurimum sepositas" (2) — and on 
the other hand twice (3) points to the subjec- 
tion of all earthly rulers to Christ, indicated in the 
passage, Psalms ii. iofif., and describes the ideal 
outcome of that divine ordinatio as the politic 
Christiana? (4) How far Christiana? What 
has Christ to do with this "matter? we ask, and 
we are left without any real answer, as though a 
particular ruling of a general, somewhat anony- 
mous Providence were here the last word. 
And if we read Zwingli's strong statement, ($) 
that the secular power has * 'strength and 
assurance from the teaching and action of 



Christ, 5 ' the disappointing explanation of this 
statement consists only in the fact that in 
Matthew xxii. 2 1 Christ ordained that we should 
render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's 
and unto God the things which are God's, and 
that by paying the customary "tribute money" 
(Didrachmon; Matt. xvii. 24f.) he himself con- 
firmed this teaching. That is again quite true 
in itself, (6) but, when stated thus apart from 
its context, in spite of the appeal to the text of 
the Gospel, it is based not on the Gospel but on 
the Law. 

We can neither overlook nor take lightly 
this gap in the teaching that we have received 
from the fathers of our church — the lack of a 
gospel-foundation, that is to say, in the strictest 
sense, of a Christological foundation, for this 
part of their creed. There is, of course, no 
question that here too they only wished to 
expound the teaching of the Bible. But the 
question remains: in introducing these biblical 
data into their creed, were they regulating 
their teaching by the standard which elsewhere 
they considered final? That is, were they 
founding law on justice or justification? political 


power on the power of Christ? Or were they 
not secretly building on another foundation, 
and, in so doing, in spite of all their apparent 
fidelity to the Bible, were they not actually 
either ignoring or misconstruing the funda- 
mental truth of the Bible? 

Let us consider what would happen if that 
were so : if the thought of human justice were 
merely clamped on to the truth of divine 
justification, instead of being vitally connected 
with it. On the one hand, to a certain extent 
it would be possible to purify the truth of 
divine justification from this foreign addition, 
and to build upon it a highly spiritual message 
and a very spiritual Church, which would 
claim to expect "everything from God," in a 
most devout spirit, and yet, in actual fact, 
would dispute this "everything" because, by 
their exclusive emphasis uf)on the Kingdom of 
God, forgiveness of sins and sanctification, they 
had ceased to seek or find any entrance into the 
sphere of these problems of human justice. 
On the other hand, it would be possible to 
consider the question of human law very 
seriously (still, perhaps, in relation to the 



general divine providence, but freed from the 
Reformers' juxtaposition of human justice and 
divine justification) and to construct a secular 
gospel of human law and a secular church, in 
which, in spite of emphatic references to 
"God," it would inevitably become clear that 
this Deity is not the Father of our Lord Jesus 
Christ, and that the human justice which is 
proclaimed is in no sense the Justice of God. 
Since the Reformation it is evident that these 
two possibilities — and with them Pietistic 
sterility on one hand, and the sterility of the 
Enlightenment on the other — have been realized 
in many spheres. But it cannot be denied that 
there is a connection between this fact and that 
gap in the Reformers' teaching. 

And now we live to-day at a time when, in 
the realm of the Church the question of divine 
justification, and in die realm of the State (lit. : 
political life), the question of human law, are 
being raised with new emphasis, and we seem, 
now as then, to be pressing onward towards 
developments that cannot yet be foreseen. It 
is obvious to recall that both justification and 
justice, or the Kingdom of Christ and the 


kingdoms of this world, or the Church and the 
State, formerly stood side by side in the 
Reformation confession, and that by "worship 
in spirit and in truth* ' the Reformers under- 
stood a life in both these realms. But if we 
are not once more to drift into sterile and 
dangerous separations, it will not be enough 
to recollect the Reformation, to repeat the 
formulae in which it placed the two realms 
side by side, to recite over and again (with 
more or less historical accuracy and sym- 
pathetic feeling) "the Reformed conception of 
the State" and the like, as though that gap were 
not evident, as though the Reformation teaching 
did not, with that gap, bear within itself the 
temptation to those separations. If the inten- 
sity of our present situation is to be our salva- 
tion and not our ruin, then the question which 
we asked at the outset must be put: Is there 
an actual, and therefore inward and vital, 
connection between the two realms? 

What is offered here is a study — a biblical, 
or more exactly, a New Testament study — for 
the answer to this question. For the dubious 
character of the Reformation solution is 


decidedly due to the questionable character of 
the authoritative scriptural arguments on this 
subject presented at that time. If we are to 
progress further to-day, we must at all costs 
go back to the Scriptures. This pamphlet 
represents a partial attempt in this direc- 
tion (7). 

I shall begin by reproducing in a few sentences 
what is, as far as I can see, the latest important 
statement of theological thought upon this sub- 
ject: the work presented on our theme by 
K. L. Schmidt in his Basle inaugural lecture of 
December 2, 1936, under the title, "The 
Conflict of Church and State in the New 
Testament Community' 5 (8). The fundamental 
teaching of the Church on her relation to the 
State is "the harsh picture of the execution of 
Jesus Christ by the officials of the State." 
What is this State?-* It is one of those angelic 
powers (ifjpvcriai) of this age, which is 
always threatened by "demonization, M that is, 
by the temptation of making itself an absolute; 
And, over against this State, what is the 
Church ? It is the actual community (TroXireu/xa) 
of the new Heaven and the new Earth, as such 


here and now certainly still hidden, and there- 
fore in the realm of the State a foreign com- 
munity (TrapoLKta). But the solidarity of 
distress and death unites Christians with all 
men, and so also with those who wield political 
power. Even though the Church prefers to 
suffer persecution at the hands of the State, 
which has become a w beast out of the pit of the 
abyss," rather than take part in the deification 
of Ccesar, yet it still knows that it is responsible 
for the State and for Caesar, and it finally 
manifests this responsibility, "the prophetic 
service of the Church as Watchman, 5 ' in its 
highest form by praying for the State and for 
its officials in all circumstances. 

Schmidt's presentation is explicitly confined 
to one section only of the problem of the 
"Church and State in the New Testament/' 
namely, with the question <that appears to be 
directly opposed to ours: the question of the 
conflict between the two realms. But it seems 
to me important to determine that even in this 
other aspect of the problem, investigation of 
the New Testament inevitably reveals a whole 
series of view-points which are of the highest 




importance for the answer to our question 
about the positive connection between the two 
realms. This is so clear, that in what follows 
I shall confine myself simply to the order traced 
by Schmidt. 



I TOO consider it right and important to point 
first of all to the situation in which Jesus and 
Pilate confront one another. So far as I can see, 
the Reformation writers in their teaching about 
Church and State, among all the somewhat 
significant Gospel texts that are concerned with 
this encounter, were interested only in the 
words of John xviii. 36: "My Kingdom is not 
of this world." Their thoughts about the 
Electoral Prince of Saxony or the Council of 
Zurich or Geneva would clfearly have been dis- 
turbed, had they concentrated intensively upon 
the person of Pilate. But did the Reformers 
see clearly at this point? Is a " disturbance* ' 
all that can be expected? Might they not 
perhaps have found here a better foundation for 

what they wished to say on this matter? Here, 



at any rate, we must try to fill up the gap which 
they have left (9). 

In point of fact, in this encounter two points 
stand out with an almost blinding clarity: the 
State, in its " demonic' ' form, and thus its 
authority as the ' 'power of the present age," 
on the one hand; the homelessness of the 
Church in this age, on the other hand. If the 
4 'rulers (10) of this world" had recognized the 
wisdom of God, which "we," the apostles, 
speak to the perfect, then "they would not 
have crucified the Lord of Glory" (1 Cor. ii. 
6f.). There they showed that they did not 
recognize the wisdom of God. But the teaching 
on the separation between Church and State 
was not, and is not, the only teaching which 
the Church may glean from the passages con- 
cerned with the encounter between Jesus and 

I turn next to John xix. 1 1 ; here Jesus ex- 
pressly confirms Pilate's claim to have "power" 
over Him, and not, indeed, an accidental or 
presumptuous power, but one given to him 
"from above" (11). And this power is in no 
sense in itself, and as such, a power of the Evil 


One, of enmity to Jesus and His claims. 
Pilate himself formulated the matter thus in the 
previous verse (10): "I have power to release 
thee and power to crucify thee.' 5 As power 
given by God, it could be used either way 
towards Jesus without losing its divine charac- 
ter. Certainly, had Jesus been released by 
Pilate, that would not have meant that the claim 
of Jesus to be King would have been recognized. 
Who for this end was born, and for this end 
came into the world, that He should bear wit- 
ness to the truth (John xviii. 37). Such "recog- 
nition 1 ' cannot be and is not Pilate's business. 
To the question of truth, the State is neutral. 
"What is truth ?" But the release of Jesus, 
and with it the recognition by the "rulers of 
this world 5 ' of the wisdom of God, might 
have meant the possibility of proclaiming openly 
the claim of Jesus to be Such a king; or, in 
other words, it would have meant the legal 
granting of the right to preach justification! 
Now Pilate did not release Jesus. He used his 
powel- to crucify Jesus. Yet Jesus expressly 
acknowledged that even so his power was given 
him by God. Did He thereby, in the mind of 


the evangelist, subject Himself to the will and 
the verdict of a general divine providence ? Or 
does the evangelist mean that in the use Pilate 
made of his power, instead of giving a just 
judgment, actually, under the cloak of legality, 
he allowed injustice to run its course? Was 
the one thing, or at least the chief thing, he 
wanted to emphasize here: that the State, by 
this decision, turned against the Church? 

No ; what he means is that what actually took 
place in this use of the statesman's power was 
the only possible thing that could take place in 
the fulfilment of the gracious will of the 
Father of Jesus Christ! Even at the moment 
when Pilate (still in the garb of justice! and in 
the exercise of the power given him by God) 
allowed injustice to run its course, he was the 
human created instrument of that justification 
of sinful man that was completed once for all 
time through that very crucifixion. 

Consider the obvious significance of the 
whole process in the light of the Pauline mes- 
sage: when Pilate takes Jesus from the hands 
of the Jews in order to have Him scourged and 
crucified, he is, so to say, the middleman who 


takes Him over in the name of paganism, who in 
so doing declares the solidarity of paganism with 
the sin of Israel, but in so doing also enters into 
the inheritance of the promise made to Israel. 
What would be the worth of all the legal 
protection which the State could and should 
have granted the Church at that moment, com- 
pared with this act in which, humanly speaking, 
the Roman governor became the virtual founder 
of the Church? Was not this claim confirmed, 
for example, in the testimony of the centurion 
at the Cross (Mk. xv. 39) which anticipates all 
the creeds of Christendom ? Then there is 
another truth which the Church might also 
gather from the meeting of Jesus and Pilate: 
namely, the very State which is "demonic" 
may will evil, and yet, in an outstanding way, 
may be constrained to do good. The State, 
even in this "demonic" ^form, cannot help 
rendering the service it is meant to render. 
It can no more evade it in the incident recorded 
by Luke xiii. where the same Pilate, the 
murderer of young Galileans, becomes at the 
same time the instrument of the call to repent- 
ance, in the same way as the — equally 


murderous — Tower of Siloam. This is why the 
State cannot lose the honour that is its due. 
For that very reason the New Testament 
ordains that in all circumstances honour must 
be shown to its representatives (Rom. xiii. i~8; 
i Pet. ii. 17). 

The synoptic accounts of the Barabbas-episode 
point in the same direction. What is Pilate 
doing when he releases the ' 'notable 5 ' Barabbas, 
cast into ' 'prison for insurrection and murder," 
but delivers 41 to scourging and crucifixion" 
the Jesus whom he has himself declared to 
be guiltless? For all our amazement at such 
justice, we may not overlook the fact that in 
that very act of the political authority, not one 
of the earliest readers of the Gospels could 
think of anything other than that act of God, 
in which He ' 'made Him to be sin for us, who 
knew no sin, that- we might be made the 
righteousness of God in Him" (2 Cor. v. 21). 
What is this extremely unjust human judge 
doing at this point? In an eminent and direct 
way he is fulfilling the word of the supremely 
just Divine Judge. Where would the Church 
be if this released Barabbas were in the place of 


the guiltless Jesus? if, that is, there had been 
no "demonic" State? 

Finally, there is one other point in the pas- 
sages referring to Pilate which must not be 
overlooked: Jesus was not condemned as an 
enemy of the State, as the "King of the Jews*' 
— although, according to Matthew xxvii. 1 1 ; 
Mark xv. 2 He acknowledged Himself to be a 
king (12). Strictly speaking, Jesus was never 
condemned at all. All four evangelists vie 
with one another in contending that Pilate 
declared Him innocent, that he regarded Him 
as "a just man" (Matt, xxvii. 19-24; Mk. 
xv. 14; Lk. xxiii. 14, 14-, 22; John xviii. 38; 
xix. 4, 6) (13). Here too the connection with 
justification now becomes clear: this same 
Pilate, constrained to become the instrument of 
the death of Jesus, ordained by God for the 
justification of sinful man— this same Pilate is 
also forced to confirm the presupposition of 
this event: to affirm expressly and openly the 
innocence of Christ, and — of course — it is in 
this very fact that he is fulfilling his specific 
function. "Pilate sought to release Him" 
(John xix. 12). For it is in this sentence of 



acquittal (which he did not pronounce), that 
his duty lies. If he had done so the State would 
have shown its true face. Had it really done so, 
then acquittal would have had to follow, and 
the State would have had to grant legal protec- 
tion to the Church! The fact that this did not 
actually happen is clearly regarded hy the 
Evangelists as a deviation from the line of duty 
on the part of Pilate, as a failure on the part of 
the State. Pilate ' 'delivered' 5 Jesus to cruci- 
fixion, because he wished to satisfy the people 
(Mk. xv. i^). The ' political charge against 
Jesus was for Pilate clearly groundless, but he 
"gave sentence that it should be as they 
required' 1 (Luke xxiii. 24). 4 'Take je him 
and crucify him!" (John xix. 6). This de- 
cision has nothing to do with the law of the 
State nor with the administration of justice. 
The Jews themselves confirmed this: "We 
have a law and by our law he ought to die ,? 
(John xix. 7). It was not in accordance with 
the law of the State, but in spite of this law, and 
in accordance with a totally different law, and in 
flagrant defiance of justice, that Jesus had to 
die. "YE, the Jews, have killed Jesus!" is 



the cry throughout the New Testament, with 
the exception of i Cor. ii. 8 ; (Acts ii. 23; 
iii. i^; vii. £2; 1 Thess. ii. ij). In this 
encounter of Pilate and Jesus the "demonic" 
State does not assert itself too much but too 
little ; it is a State which at the decisive moment 
fails to be true to itself. Is the State here an 
absolute? If only Pilate had taken himself 
absolutely seriously as a representative of the 
State he would have made a different use of his 
power. Yet the fact that he used it as he did 
could not alter the fact that this power was 
really given him "from above." But he could 
not use it as he did without contradicting his 
true function; under the cloak of legality he 
trampled on the law which he should have 
upheld; in so doing, however, it became 
evident that if he had been true to his com- 
mission he would have had ta decide otherwise. 
Certainly, in deflecting the course of justice he 
became the involuntary agent and herald of 
divine justification, yet at the same time he 
makes it clear that real human justice, a real 
exposure of the true face of the State, would 
inevitably have meant the recognition of the 



right to proclaim divine justification, the King- 
dom of Christ which is not of this world, freely 
and deliberately. 

We must not again lose sight of this doubly 
positive determination of the encounter between 
these two realms, as it has emerged in this 
critical instance. Particularly in considering 
this most critical instance we cannot say that the 
legal administration of the State "has nothing 
to do with the order of Redemption" ; that 
here we have been moving in the realm of the 
first and not of the second article of the 
Creed (14). No, Pontius Pilate now belongs 
not only to the Creed, but to its second article 
in particular! 



TURNING to the exegesis of the passage 
Romans xiii. 1-7, which has been so much 
studied in every age, it may be thought peculiar 
that although an ancient explanation mentioned 
by Irenaeus (ig) was clearly not generally 
accepted, yet in recent years fresh emphasis 
has been laid (16) on the fact that the word 
kgovo-tai which is used by Paul in verse 1 , and 
in Titus iii. 1 and also by Luke, to indicate 
political authority, is used throughout the rest 
of the New Testament, wherever it appears, in 
the plural (or in the singular with naa-a) 
(1 Cor. xv. 24; CoL i. 16; ii. 10, is; Eph. i. 
21; iii. 10; vi. 12; 1 Pet. iii. 22) to indicate 
a group of those angelic powers which are so 
characteristic of the Biblical conception of the 
world and of man. efovo-uu, like ap^aC or 
ap^ovTes, Suva/ieis, dp6voi 9 KvpioTTjTes, ayyeXot, 



etc., and all these entities which are so difficult 
to distinguish (probably they should all be - in- 
cluded under the comprehensive heading ayyeW) 
constitute created, but invisible, spiritual and 
heavenly powers, which exercise, in and above 
the rest of creation, a certain independence, and 
in this independence have a certain superior 
dignity, task, and function, and exert a certain 
real influence. 

The researches of G. Dehn strengthen the 
already strong probability which arises from 
the language itself, that when the Church of 
the New Testament spoke of the State, the 
emperor or king, and of his representatives and 
their activities, it had in mind the picture of an 
''angelic power" of this kind, represented by 
this State and active within it. We have already 
met the concept igovata in the singular as 
indicating the power given to Pilate, to crucify 
Jesus or to release Him. Similarly, the 
concept apxovTts (i Cor. ii. 8) is certainly 
intended to designate the State — and an angelic 
power (17). What does this mean? It has 
been rightly maintained (18) that this explains 
how it came to pass that the State, from being 


the defender of the law, established by God's 
will and ordinance, could become * 'the beast out 
of the abyss" of Revelation xiii. (19), dominated 
by the Dragon, demanding the worship of 
Caesar, making war on the Saints, blaspheming 
God, conquering the entire world. An angelic 
power may indeed become wild, degenerate, 
perverted, and so become a "demonic" power. 
That, clearly, had happened with the State as 
represented by Pilate which crucified Jesus. 
When Paul warns the Colossian Christians 
against the seductions of these angelic powers 
which have become "demonic," against a 
"worshipping of angels" (Col. ii. 18), when 
he exhorts them to strive not with flesh and 
blood but with principalities and powers, with 
"rulers of the darkness of this world" (Ephes. 
vi. 12), when he comforts them by the assur- 
ance that these "powers" ^cannot separate us 
from the love of Christ (Rom. viii. 38f.) (20), 
and when he gives the vision of their ultimate 
"deliverance" through Christ in His Parousia 
(1 Cor. xv. 24) — all this may have a more or less 
direct bearing upon the "demons" and the 
"demonic" forces in the political sphere. 



But the last passage which was quoted also 
contains a warning. When the separation 
between Christ and the State has been estab- 
lished, the last word on the vision of the "beast 
out of the abyss" has not been said. I think it 
is dangerous to translate the word Karapyeiv 
in i Corinthians xv. 24 as * 'annihilate' ' — 
however clearly it bears that meaning in 
other passages. For immediately afterwards, 
in verse 2£, the passage runs: "He must reign 
till He hath put all His enemies under His feet" 
— that is, till He has sovereign power over 
them. But that is also the image used in 
Philippians ii. — "Wherefore God also hath 
highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which 
is above.every name ; that at the name of Jesus 
every knee should bow, of things in Heaven and 
things in earth and things under the earth 5 ' ; in 
Ephesians i. 20, 21 — "He set Him at His own 
right hand in the heavenly places far above all 
principality and power and might . . in 
1 Peter iii. 22 — "Who is gone into heaven and 
is on the right hand of God; angels and 
authorities and powers being made subject unto 
Him. 55 The same image, too, is used in that 


particularly striking passage: Colossians ii. 15: 
" Having spoiled principalities and powers, He 
made a show of them openly, triumphing over 
them in it." The destiny of the rebellious 
angelic powers which is made clear in Christ's 
resurrection and parousia is not that they will 
be annihilated, but that they will be forced into 
the service and the glorification of Christ, and 
through Him, of God. And both the begin- 
ning and the middle of their story also corre- 
spond to this ultimate destiny. I fail to see 
how one can say (21) without further ado that 
they simply represent "the world which lives 
on itself and by itself and as such is the antipodes 
and exact opposite of the creation": "In them 
the solitary world arises . 1 5 According to Colos- 
sians i. i £ it is rather the case that they have been 
created in the Son of God as in the image of 
the invisible God, by Him <fnd unto Him, and 
further, according to Col. ii. 10, that in Him 
they have their Head. From the first, then, 
they do not belong to themselves. From the 
first they stand at the disposal of Jesus Christ. 
To them too His work is relevant: "He was 
seen of angels" (i Tim, iii, 16). The outcome 



of St, Paul's preaching to the heathen is that 
through the existence of the Church, the 
1 'manifold wisdom of God" (22) might be 
made known unto them (Eph. iii. 10). With 
the Church they too desire to gaze into the 
mystery of the salvation which is to be revealed 
in the future (1 Pet. i. 12). And they are 
present not only as spectators ; for them too the 
peace won by the crucifixion of Christ (Col. i. 
20) and the amKe<£a\aiWis (Eph. i. 10) are 
in both passages related both to earth and 
to heaven. We should note that here there is 
no question of any justification of the ' 'demons' ' 
and the ' 'demonic" forces; nor is the function 
of Christ concerning the angelic powers directly 
connected with divine justification. But it 
seems to have some connection with human 
justice. For what seems to be meant here is 
that in Christ the angelic powers are called to 
order and, so far as they need it, they are 
restored to their original order. Therefore 
any further rebellion in this realm can, in 
principle, only take place in accordance with 
their creation, and within Christ's order, in 
the form of unwilling service to the Kingdom 


of Christ, until even that rebellion, within the 
boundaries of the Kingdom of Christ, is broken 
down in His Resurrection and Parousia. At 
the present time, in the period bounded by the 
Resurrection and the Parousia, there is no 
further rebellion of the heavenly powers ; no 
longer can they escape from their original 

What follows when all this is applied to the 
political angelic power? Clearly this: that 
that power, the State as such, belongs originally 
and ultimately to Jesus Christ; that in its 
comparatively independent substance, in its 
dignity, it function and its purpose, it should 
serve the Person and the Work of Jesus Christ 
and therefore the justification of the sinner. 
The State can of course become ' 'demonic, ' ' and 
the New Testament makes no attempt to conceal 
the fact that at all times th£ Church may, and 
actually does, have to deal with the "demonic" 
State. From this point of view the State 
becomes "demonic" not so much by an un- 
warrantable assumption of autonomy — as is often 
assumed — as by the loss of its legitimate, relative 
independence, as by a renunciation of its true 


substance, dignity, function and purpose, a re- 
nunciation which works out in Caesar- worship, 
the myth of the State and the like. We should 
add that, in the view of the New Testament, in 
no circumstances can this "demonic" State 
finally achieve what it desires; with gnashing 
of teeth it will have to serve where it wants to 
dominate; it will have to build where it 
wishes to destroy; it will have to testify to 
God's justice where it wishes to display the 
injustice of men. 

On the other hand, it is not inevitable that 
the State should become a "demonic" force 
(23), In the New Testament it is not sug- 
gested that by its very nature, as it were, the 
State will be compelled, sooner or later, to play 
the part of the Beast "out of the abyss." 
Why should this be inevitable, since it too has 
been created in Christ, through Him and for 
Him, and since even to it the manifold wisdom 
of God i3 t proclaimed by the Church? It 
could not itself become a Church, but from its 
very origin, in its concrete encounter with 
Christ and His Church, it could administer 
justice and protect the law (in accordance with 


its substance, dignity, function and purpose, 
and in so doing remaining true to itself instead 
of losing itself!) In so doing, voluntarily or 
involuntarily, very indirectly yet none the less 
certainly, it would be granting the gospel of 
justification a free and assured course. In the 
light of the New Testament doctrine of angels 
it is impossible to ignore the fact that the State 
may also manifest its neutral attitude towards 
Truth, by rendering to the Church, as a true 
and just State, that service which lies in its 
power to render; by granting it its true and 
lawful freedom, "that we may lead a quiet and 
peaceable life in all godliness and honesty* ' 
(i Tim. ii. 2). If, even when it has become 
an unjust State and a persecutor of the Church, 
it cannot escape the real subordination in which 
it exists, yet in the same real subordination it 
may also show its true fac* as a just State (in 
practice that may well mean at least a part of 
its true face) as, indeed, it appears to have 
manifested it to a great extent in all that 
concerns Paul, according to the Acts of the 
Apostles (24). 

Thus there is clearly no cause for the Church 


to act as though it lived, in relation to the 
State, in a night in which all cats are grey. 
It is much more a question of continual de- 
cisions, and therefore of distinctions between 
one State and another, between the State of 
yesterday and the State of to-day. According to 
i Corinthians xii. 10 the Church receives, 
among other gifts, that of ''discerning of 
spirits.' ' If by these "spirits" we are to 
understand the angelic powers, then they have a 
most significant political relevance in preaching, 
in teaching, and in pastoral work. 

One decisive result of this exegesis as a 
whole should be a clear understanding of the 
meaning of Romans 13. The God from Whom 
all this concrete authority comes, by Whom all 
powers that be are ordained (v. 1), Whose 
ordinance every man resists who resists 
that power (v. 2), *Whose Sia/coi/os it is (v. 4) 
and Whose XeiTovpyoC its representatives are 
(v. 6) — this God cannot be understood apart 
from the Person and the Work of Christ ; He 
cannot be understood in a general way as Creator 
and Ruler, as was done in the expositions of the 
Reformers, andalso by the more recent expositors 


up to and including Dehn and Schlier. When 
the New Testament speaks of the State 
we are, fundamentally, in the Christological 
sphere; we are on a lower level than when it 
speaks of the Church, yet, in true accordance 
with its statements on the Church, we are in 
the same unique Christological sphere. It is 
not sufficient to state (25-) that the vrrb deov 
sweeps away all hypotheses which suggest that 
the origin of the State is in nature, in fate, in 
history, or in a social contract of some kind, 
or in the nature of society, and the like; this 
too is why it is not sufficient to state that the 
foundation of the State reminds it of its 
limits. The phrase viro 6eov does mean this, 
it is true, but it must be added that in thus 
stating this foundation and limitation of the 
State, Paul is not thinking of some general 
conception of God, in the <#ir, so to speak, but 
he is indicating Him in Whom all the angelic 
powers have their foundation and their limits, 
the "image of the invisible God" Who as such 
is also "the firstborn of all creation' ' (Col. i. 

We need only see that for Paul, within 
the compass of this centre and therefore within 


the Christological sphere (although outside the 
sphere characterized by the word "justifica- 
tion") there was embodied in the angelic world 
another secondary Christological sphere — if I 
may put it so — uniting the Church with the 
Cosmos, wherein the necessity and the reality 
of the establishment and administration of 
human justice was clearly important above all 
else — thus we need only see this in order to 
note that in Romans xiii. the Name of God is 
used in a very clear way, and not in any vague 
manner. The establishment and the function 
of the State, and, above all, the Christian's 
attitude towards it, will then lose a certain 
accidental character which was peculiar to the 
older form of exposition. We shall then not 
have to relate to God, as distinct from Jesus 
Christ, the grounds for the attitude required 
by i Peter ii. 13, 4 'for the Lord's sake" (26); 
just as in the use of similar formulae in the 
epistles to the Colossians and the Ephesians, 
according to the specific witness of Colossians 
iii. 24 and Ephesians v. 20; vi. 6, no other 
' 'Lord' 5 is meant than Jesus Christ. ' 'Sub- 
mitting yourselves one to another in the fear of 


Christ" (Eph. v. 21, R.V.). It is the fear of 
Christ — that is, the sense of indebtedness to 
Him as the Lord of all created lords (Col. iv. 1 ; 
Eph. vi. 9) which would be dishonoured by an 
attitude of hostility, and it is the fear of Christ 
which clearly, according to 1 Peter ii. i3f., 
forms the foundation for the imperative: "Sub- 
mit yourselves ... to the King." And we 
shall have to think in the same direction when 
in Romans xiii. 5 it is claimed of the same 
submission that it should occur not merely 
through anxiety before the wrath of authority, 
but for conscience* sake. HvvetSyjo-Ls (con- 
science) means "to know with." With whom 
can man know something? The New Testa- 
ment makes this quite clear. Schlatter has 
translated the crvveih-qai^ 0eov of 1 Peter ii. 
19 as "certainty of God." It is clear that 
in 1 Corinthians x. 25-27,* where the formula 
used in Romans xiii. 5 also appears, it does not 
indicate a norm imposed upon mankind in 
general but one imposed on the Christian in 
particular — and that from the recognition of 
that norm implies that he must adopt a definite 
attitude. Christian knowledge, Christian cer- 


tainty, and the Christian conscience do not 
demand that Christians should enquire in the 
shambles or at the feast about the origin of the 
meat that is set before them (i Cor. x.). 
But the Christian conscience does demand that 
they should submit to authority (Rom. xiii.J. 
Clearly this is because in this authority we are 
dealing indirectly, but in reality, with the 
authority of Jesus Christ. 



IN order to throw light upon the contrast 
between Church and State emphasis has 
always, rightly, been laid on the fact that the 
State (iroXtTevfjia) or the city (voXis) of 
Christians should not be sought in the c 'present 
age' 5 but in that " which is to come"; not on 
earth but in heaven. That is, in an impressive 
way, the theme of Philippians iii. 2 o ; Hebrews xi. 
io, 13-16; xii. 22; xiii. 14. And in Revela- 
tion xxi. this city of the Christians is surveyed 
and presented, with its walk, gates, streets and 
foundations: "The holy city, new Jerusalem, 
coming down from God out of heaven, pre- 
pared as a bride adorned for her husband* * 
(v. 2). In this city there is, strikingly, .no 
temple: "For the Lord God the Almighty, and 

the Lamb, are the temple thereof" (v. 22). 



That is why it is said: "The nations shall walk 
in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do 
bring their glory and honour into it. And the 
gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: (for 
there shall be no night there). And they shall 
bring the glory and honour of the nations into 
it. And there shall in no wise enter into it 
anything that defileth, neither whatsoever 
worketh abomination or maketh a lie; but 
they which are written in the Lamb's book of 
life" (v. 24-27). It must here be emphasized, 
above all else, that in this future city in which 
Christians have their citizenship here and now 
(without yet being able to inhabit it), we are 
concerned not with an ideal but with a real 
State — yes, with the o:dy real State; not with 
an imaginary one but with the only one that 
truly exists. And it is the fact that Christians 
have their citizenship in this, the real State, 
that makes them strangers and sojourners within 
the State, or within the States of this age and 
this world. Yes, if they are "strangers and 
pilgrims" here it is because this city constitutes 
below their faith and their hope — and not 
because they see the imperfections or even the 


perversions of the states of this age and this 
world! It is not resentment, but a positive 
sentiment, through which in contradistinction 
to non- Christians it comes about, that they 
have "no continuing city" here (Heb. xiii. 14). 
It is because Paul knows that he is "gar- 
risoned' ' by the Peace of God which passes all 
understanding, that the Pax Romana cannot 
impress Paul as an "ultimate 5 ' (27). It is 
because "the saints shall judge the world" — 
and not because the Corinthian law-courts 
were particularly bad — that, according to 
1 Corinthians vi. 1-6, Christians must be able, 
within certain limits, to renounce their right 
to appeal to the law of the State and its courts of 

It is the hope of the new age, which is 
dawning in power, that separates the Church 
from the State, that is, from the States of this 
age and this world. The only question is 
whether this same hope does not also in a 
peculiar way unite the two. H. Schlier (28), 
who rightly answers the question in the affirma- 
tive, describes this bond as follows: "Who- 
ever considers human life as ordered and 


established in faith, for this world which God 
is preparing ... in face of the claims of tiie 
actual earthly bonds, and in the claims of the 
most exacting of all bonds — that of the State — 
will discern in them the will of God, and will 
see bonds established by God. In the eschato- 
logical knowledge about the actual end of the 
world, the present world is proclaimed in its 
real and true character as the creation of 
God's word." To that I would like to ask 
whether the New Testament anywhere shows 
any interest in the f 'present world in its real 
and true character as the creation of God 5 ' 
save in so far as it finds it to be grounded, 
constituted and restored in Christ? In this 
case, when we think of this bond, should we 
not do better to look forward, to the coming 
age, to Christ? rather than backward — that is, 
rather than think iiv the abstract about creation 
and the hypothetic divine bonds established by 
this creation. 

Of one thing in the New Testament there 
can be no doubt: namely, that the description 
of the order of the new age is that of a political 
order. Think of the significant phrase: the 


Kingdom of God, or of Heaven, that it is called 
Kingdom of God or Heaven, and remember too 
the equally "political" title of the King of this 
realm: Messias and Kjtios. And from Revela- 
tion xxi. we learn that it is not the real church 
(e/c/cX^cria) but the real city (7roAxs) that 
truly constitutes the new age. Or, to put it 
otherwise, the Church sees its future and its 
hope, not in any heavenly image of its own 
existence, but in the real heavenly State. 
Wherever it believes in, and proclaims here and 
now, the justification of the sinner through the 
blood of the Lamb, it will see before it, ' ' coming 
down out of Heaven from God," the city of 
eternal law in which there is no offender and 
whose doors need never be closed, but which 
also needs no temple, for the same Lamb will 
be its temple. And this city will not endure 
merely on the ruins of the annihilated glory of 
the peoples and the kings of this earth, but the 
whole of this earthly glory will be brought into 
It, as supplementary tribute. Could the Church 
of divine justification hold the human law- 
State in higher esteem than when it sees in that 
very State, in its heavenly reality, into which 


its terrestrial existence will finally be absorbed, 
the final predicate of its own grounds for hop'e? 
Deification of the State then becomes impos- 
sible, not because there is no divinity of the 
State, but because it is the divinity of the 
heavenly Jerusalem, and as such cannot belong 
to the earthly State. But the opposite of such 
deification, which would consist of making the 
State a devil, is also impossible. We have no 
right to do as Augustine liked to do, and 
straightway identify the civitas terrena with the 
civitas Cain. Not because its representatives, 
office-bearers and citizens can protect it from 
becoming the State of Cain, or even of the 
devil, but because the heavenly Jerusalem is also 
a State, and every State, even the worst and 
most perverse, possesses its imperishable destiny 
in the fact that it will one day contribute to the 
glory of the heavenly Jerusalem, and will 
inevitably bring its tribute thither. 

From this point of view we can understand 
two passages from the Epistle to the Ephesians, 
in which the writer — although the word of the 
Kingdom of God which is not of this world was 
known to him, if not in those actual words, at 


least in reality — has no hesitation in describing 
the Church itself (in a connection in which he 
is considering its earthly and temporal reality) 
as the commonwealth of Israel (Eph. ii. 12) and 
later describes its members (in contradistinc- 
tion to their past nature as strangers and 
foreigners) as fellow-citizens with the saints 
(Eph. ii. 19). There is no need to labour the 
point that this "politicizing 5 * of the earthly 
Church is "from above/* affirmed from the 
point of view of the ultimate reality, of the 
"last things/* which, however, neither re- 
moves nor alters the fact that in this age, and 
in relation to the State, the Church is a 
"stranger.** But, for that very reason, it is 
remarkable that the concepts, so important 
for the Christians, of "strangers and foreigners' ' 
are used to describe those who do not belong 
to the Church, and that the concept of the 
"rights of citizenship,*' so important for the 
ancient State, can become the predicate of the 
Church on earth. Here, too, we must ask 
whether the objection of the early Christians 
to the earthly State, and the consciousness of 
being "strangers** within this State, does not 


mean essentially that this State has been too 
little (and not too much!) of a State for thole 
who know of the true State in heaven; or, 
again, we might put the question positively, 
and ask whether, in view of the basis and 
origin of the earthly State these Christians have 
not seen, in the Gospel of divine justification, 
the infinitely better, the true and only real 
source and norm of all human law, even in this 
£ 'present age"? The desire or the counsel of 
Paul, in i Corinthians vi. 1-6, which so clearly 
points to something like legislation within the 
Church itself would otherwise be incompre- 

It is essential that we should arrive at this 
point — one might almost say at this prophecy: 
that it is the preaching of justification of the 
Kingdom of God, which founds, here and now, 
the true system of law, the true State. But it is 
equally essential that when this prophecy has 
been made the Church on earth should not go 
beyond its own bounds and endow itself with 
the predicates of the heavenly State, setting 
itself up in concrete fashion against the earthly 
State as the true State, That it could and 


should do so cannot possibly be the meaning of 
Ephesians ii. and i Corinthians vi., because 
for the New Testament the heavenly State is 
and remains exclusively the heavenly State, 
established not by man but by God, which, as 
such, is not capable of realization in this age, 
not even in the Church. It was from the 
point of view of a later age that Clement of 
Alexandria (29) extolled the Church guided by 
the Logos as unconquered, enslaved by no 
arbitrary power, and even identical with the 
will of God on earth as in heaven; and again, 
later still, Augustine (30) was able to make the 
proud statement: "True justice is not to be 
found except in that republic, whose founder 
and ruler is Christ." It could be no accident 
that the writers of the Epistle to the Hebrews 
and the First Epistle of Peter neglected to 
console the Christians who were so homeless in 
this age and in this world by assuring them that 
nevertheless they had a home, here and now, in 
the Church. It is far more true that they have 
here no abiding city, and that the earthly 
Church stands over against the earthly State as 
a sojourning (irapoLKia) and aot as a State 


within the State, or even as a State above the 
State, as was later claimed by the papal Church 
of Rome, and widened also by many a fanatical 

There are other conclusions to be drawn 
from Ephesians ii. and i Corinthians vi. 
This 7rapoiKia, this "establishment among 
strangers/' does not wait for the city which is 
to come without doing anything. What indeed 
does take place in this irapoiKia ? We 
might reply, simplifying, but not giving a wrong 
turn to the phrase: the preaching of justifica- 
tion. It is in this preaching that this "foreign 
community" affirms its hope in the city which 
is to come: in this preaching, that is, in the 
message which proclaims that by grace, and 
once for all, God has gathered up sinful man in 
the Person of Jesus, that He has made sin and 
death His own, and thus that He has not merely 
acquitted man, but that for time and for 
eternity He has set him free for the enjoyment 
of the life which he had lost. What the 
TrapoLKia believes is simply the reality oT 
this message, and what it hopes for is simply 
the unveiling of this reality, which still remains, 


here and now, concealed. We must note that 
it? is not man or humanity, but the Lamb, the 
Messiah, Jesus, who is the Spouse for whom the 
Bride, the heavenly city, is adorned. It is He, 
and His Presence, as "the Lamb that hath been 
slain," who makes this City what it is, the City 
of Eternal Law. It is His law, the rights won 
by Jesus Christ in His death and proclaimed in 
His Resurrection, which constitute this Eternal 
law. (Here we are confronted by a quite 
different conception from the Stoic conception 
of the "City" to which Clement of Alexan- 
dria refers in the passage which we have men- 
tioned.) Now this eternal law of Jesus Christ 
constitutes precisely the content of the message 
of justification, in which, here and now, the 
task of the Church consists. The Church 
cannot itself effect the disclosure of this 
eternal law, neither in its .own members nor 
in the world. It cannot anticipate the "Mar- 
riage of the Lamb" (Rev. xix. 7). It cannot 
will to celebrate it in this "present age" but 
"it can and it should proclaim it. 

But — here we go a step further — it can and 
should proclaim it to the world. It is worth 


noticing that in all those passages in the 
Epistles that are directly concerned with our 
problem a window is thrown open in this 
direction, which, at first sight, seems somewhat 
strange. The behaviour towards the State 
which they demand from all Christians is 
always connected with their behaviour towards 
all men. ' 'Render therefore to all their dues. 
. . . Owe no man anything but (which you 
can only do within the Church) to love one 
another" (Rom. xiii. 7, 8). In 1 Timothy ii. 1 
we read that they should make "supplications, 
prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks for 
all men," and in Titus iii. 2, immediately 
after the words on those in authority, we read 
"be gentle, showing all meekness unto all 
men." Finally in 1 Peter ii. 13 we are again 
dealing with the "Every ordinance of man," 
and later in v. 17,, going a step further (and 
here too in clear distinction to the love of the 
brotherhood) "honour all men." What does 
this mean? It seems to me, when considered 
in connection with 1 Timothy ii. 1-7, that it 
clearly means this : Since it is our duty to pray 
for all men, so we should pray in particular for 


kings and for all in authority, because it is 
only on the condition that such men exist that 
we can 4 'lead a quiet and peaceable life in all 
godliness and honesty. 5 ' Why is it necessary 
that we should be able to lead such a life? 
Are we justified (31) in interpolating at this 
point the words c< as citizens," and so causing 
Christians to pray for the preservation of a sort 
of bucolic existence ? The passage quite clearly 
goes on to say: "for this (obviously the possi- 
bility of our quiet and peaceable life) is good 
and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, 
who will have all men to be saved, and to come 
unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is 
one God, and one mediator between God and 
men, the man Christ Jesus ; who gave Himself 
a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. 
Whereunto I am ordained a preacher and an 
apostle." Thus the quiet; and peaceable life 
under the rule of the State, for the sake of 
which this passage calls us to pray for statesmen, 
is no ideal in itself, just as the existence of the 
Church, in contradistinction to all other men, 
can be no ideal in itself. It is the preacher 
and apostle who stands in need of this quiet and 


peaceable life, and this apostle, and with him 
stand those with whom he here identifies 
himself, not in the service of a Universal 
Creator and Preserver, but in the service of the 
Saviour, God, who will "have all men to be 
saved and to come unto the knowledge of the 
truth/' who is the one God in the one 
Mediator, who gave Himself a ransom for all. 
Why does the community need "a quiet and 
peaceable life 3 ' ? It needs it because in its own 
way, and in its own place, 'it likewise needs 
the preacher and apostle for all, and because it 
needs freedom in the realm of all men in order 
to exercise its function towards all men. But 
this freedom can only be guaranteed to it 
through the existence of the earthly State which 
ordains that all men shall live together in 
concord. Is not the argument for submission 
to the civil administration of justice given in 
i Peter ii. i^f., by the statement that it is the. 
will of God that the Christians as those who 
are recognized by law as welldoers, "may put 
to silence the ignorance of foolish men — as 
free and not using their liberty" guaranteed by 
the State "for a cloak of maliciousness," but 


will act in this freedom as servants of God? 
Skice this freedom of the Church can only be 
guaranteed through the existence of the State, 
therefore there is no alternative but that the 
Church should on its side guarantee the exist- 
ence of the State through its prayers. That this 
mutual guarantee can and should fundamentally 
only be temporary — that is, that by its very 
nature it can and should only be exercised in 
this age and in this world, that the State can 
and should only partially grant or totally deny 
the guarantee that the Church demands of it, 
that, finally, the Church cannot and should not 
require of the State any guarantee as to the 
validity or the effectiveness of its gospel — all 
this is not the least altered by the fact that the 
Church in all earnestness expects this limited 
guarantee from the State, nor by the fact that 
this guarantee which the Ch,urch requires of the 
State is a serious one, and, as such, cannot be 
too seriously laid upon the hearts of its mem- 
bers. Prayer for the bearers of State authority 
belongs to the very essence of its own existence. 
It would not be a Church if it were to ignore 
this apostolic exhortation. It would then have 


forgotten that it has to proclaim this promised 
justification to all men. » 

But we must also understand the demand for 
loyalty to the State in the other passages in the 
Epistles which deal with this subject in the light 
of i Timothy ii., that is, in the light of this 
mutual guarantee. In Titus iii. 1-8, astonish- 
ingly enough, it is connected with the rebirth 
through baptism and the Holy Spirit. But that is 
not astonishing if the future heirs of eternal 
life, justified, according to v. 7, by the grace of 
Jesus Christ, receive all that not for themselves, 
but in the Church and as members of the 
Church for all men, and thus stand in need of 
freedom not for themselves but for the word of 
the Church and therefore for human law, and so 
have to respect the bearers and representatives 
of that law. And when in Romans xiii. 3-4, 
and 1 Peter ii. 14 we read that obedience must 
be rendered to authority because it is the duty 
of authority to reward the good and to punish 
the evil, then in the context of both epistles it 
seems to me an impossible interpretation to 
say that the writers were speaking of "good" 
and "evil" in a quite general and neutral sense, 


and that the justice of the State is equally general 
and neutral. Why should not the writers have 
been making the same use of these concepts as 
they did elsewhere, and been demanding that 
Christians should do the good work of their 
faith, in the performance of which they, in 
contradistinction to the evil doers, have in 
no sense to fear the power of the State, but 
rather to expect its praise? Why, thinking of 
the i 'power" that was so clearly granted to 
Pilate to crucify or release Jesus, should they 
not first of all have pointed Christians to the 
better — i.e. the only true — possibility of the 
State, the possibility granted to it by the c 'good, s ' 
i.e. by the Church, to protect the law (or, 
in other words, the possibility of a "Con- 
cordat"!)? The fact that the State could 
actually make use of the other possibility, that 
it could actually honour tfie evil and punish 
the good, may be quite true, but it cannot alter 
its mission, hence it does not affect the 
Christian attitude towards the State. Should 
the State go so far as to honour evil doers and 
to punish the good, if it can be recalled at all 
to its mission, and thereby to its own true 


possibility, it will be due to the Christian 
attitude towards it. And even if the State 
betrays its divine calling it will nevertheless 
be constrained to fulfil its function, to guarantee 
the freedom of the Church, even if in a quite 
different way! The "honour" that the State 
owes to the Church will then consist in the 
suffering of the followers of Christ, described in 
the First Epistle of Peter: — and the punish- 
ment of the evil doers will then consist in the 
fact that the glory of this suffering will be with- 
held from them. Thus in one way or another, 
the State will have to be the servant of divine 

Thus it is clear that in this very close relation 
between the existence of the Church and that 
of the State, the Church cannot itself become a 
State, and the State, on the other hand, cannot 
become a Church. , It is true, of course, that 
in principle the Church, too, turns to all men ; 
but it does so with its message of justification, 
and its summons to faith. The Church gathers 
its members through free individual decisions, 
behind which stands the quite different free 
choice of God, and in this age it will never 


have to reckon with gathering all men within 
itself. The Church must have complete con- 
fidence in God, who is the God of all men, and 
must leave all to Him. But the State has 
always assembled within itself all men living 
within its boundaries, and it holds them to- 
gether, as such, through its order, which is 
established and maintained by force. The State 
as State knows nothing of the Spirit, nothing of 
love, nothing of forgiveness. The State bears 
the sword, and at the best, as seen in Romans 
xiii., it does not wield it in vain. It too must 
leave to God the question of what must be 
done for man's welfare in addition to the 
administration of the law which is based on 
force. The State would be denying its own 
existence if it wished to become a Church. 
And the Church on its side, for its own sake, 
or rather, for the sake of its mission, can never 
wish that the State should cease to be the 
State. For it can never become a true Church. 
If it were insane enough to attempt this it 
could only become an idolatrous Church. And, 
on the other hand, the Church would be denying 
its own existence if it wished to become a 


State, and to establish law by force, when it 
should be preaching justification. It could not 
be a true State; it could only be a clerical 
State, with a bad conscience on account of its 
neglected duty, and incapable, on this foreign 
soil, of administering justice to all men, as is 
the duty of the State. 

But this relation between the Church and the 
State does not exclude — but includes — the fact 
that the problem of the State, namely, the 
problem of law, is raised, and must be answered, 
within the sphere of the Church on Earth. 
Those phrases in Ephesians ii. are no mere 
rhetorical flourishes, but they are concretely 
related to the fact that there is and must be 
within the Church itself (and here its close 
relation to the State asserts itself) something like 
(I am here deliberately using an indefinite 
phrase) a commonwealth: with its offices and 
orders, divisions of labour and forms of com- 
munity. This is known as Ecclesiastical Law. 
It is well known that Rudolf Sohm regarded 
the appearance of ecclesiastical law (which, 
according to him, took place only in the second 
century) as the great sin of the early Church. 


But the Christian Church of the first century, 
as* pictured by Sohm, moved freely by the 
Spirit of God, hither and thither, never actually 
existed. Now there is one fundamental eccle- 
siastical principle which cannot be denied 
without at the same time denying the resurrec- 
tion of Christ and in so doing the very heart 
of the entire New Testament: the authority of 
the apostolate. And from the start there 
arose from this one principle many others, in 
freedom indeed, but in the freedom of the 
Word of God, and in no other freedom. The 
words of Paul (i Cor. xiv. 33) about the God 
who is the author not of confusion but of peace, 
and above all the whole argument of 1 Corin- 
thians xii.-xiv., are characteristic at this point. 
How could the Church expect law from the 
State and at the same time exclude law from its 
own life? How could it, and how can it, live 
out the teaching with which it has been 
entrusted and yet, in its own realm, dispense 
with law and order, with the order which serves 
to protect that teaching? Certainly, in the 
primitive Church there was not more than 
' 'something like a commonwealth' 5 ; it was 


certainly never a juridical community employ- 
ing the methods of compulsion characteristic of 
the State ; and when, later on, it became such 
a body it was to its own undoing. Ecclesi- 
astical authority is spiritual authority — authority, 
that is, which implies the witness of the Holy 
Spirit. Does this make it less strict? Is it not 
for that very reason the strictest authority of 
all? Was there ever a more compelling legal 
order than that which we find presupposed in 
the letters of the Apostles ? 

But the other side of the question, in this 
connection, is still more remarkable: this 
antagonistic relation between Church and State 
does not exclude — on the contrary, it includes 
— the fact that the New Testament, if we 
examine it closely, in no sense deals with the 
order of the State, and the respect that is due 
to such an order,- as something which only 
affects the life of the Christian community from 
without, but to a certain extent (and again I am 
deliberately using an indefinite phrase), the 
New Testament deals with it as the question of a 
kind of annexe and outpost of the Christian 
community, erected in the world outside, 


which thus, in a certain sense, is included 
Within the ecclesiastical order as such. The 
fact that the Church has had to assume a 
4 'certain' 1 political character is balanced by 
the fact that the Church must recognize, and 
honour, a * 'certain" ecclesiastical character in 
the State. At all times indeed forms of "State 
Church" have always existed, which, in this 
respect at least, were not so far removed from 
the New Testament picture of things as might 
appear at first glance. It should be noted that 
the exhortation on the subject of the State in 
Romans xiii. cannot possibly, if taken in its 
context, be regarded as an exceptional state- 
ment dealing with the Law of Nature, because 
it is firmly embedded in the midst of a series of 
instructions all of which have as their presup- 
position and their aim the Christian existence as 
such. In the First Epistle to Timothy it 
stands at the head of a series of exhortations 
dealing with the conduct of men and of women 
during worship, and with the office of the 
bishop and of the deacon. In the Epistle to 
Titus it stands at the end, and in the First 
Epistle of Peter at the beginning, of a similar 



series. The verb "be subject unto/' so charac- 
teristic of the imperative of this exhortation 
(Rom. xiii. i; Titus iii. i; i Pet. ii. 13), is 
not only used in Titus ii. 9 and 1 Peter ii. 18 
for the conduct of Christian slaves towards 
their masters, but also in Colossians iii. 18, 
Ephesians v. 22, Titus ii. 5, and 1 Peter iii. 
i, -5- for the conduct of women towards men, 
in 1 Peter v. £ for the conduct of the younger 
towards the older members of the community, 
and in Ephesians v. 21 and 1 Peter v. s for 
the conduct of Christians towards one another 
within the Church. 

How do the "higher powers," the "rulers/' 
the king and his governors come into this 
society? Does not the fact that they are 
within this society clearly show that this is a 
specifically Christian exhortation, that the secular 
authority and our -attitude to it are to some 
extent included in those "orders" in which 
Christians have to prove their obedience to 
God? and indeed to the God who is revealed 
in Jesus Christ? And what shall we say to the 
fact that the State ruler in Romans xiii. 4 is 
characterized as the minister of God, and the 


State officials in Romans xiii. 6 with their 
various demands on the public, as Gbd's 
ministers? (32). How do they come to receive 
this sacred name? It seems to me clear that 
they do "to a certain extent'' actually stand 
within the sacred order, not — as was later said, 
with far too great a servility — as membra 
prcecipua, but as ministri extraordinarii ecclesice. 

The light which falls from the heavenly 
polis upon the earthly ecclesia is reflected in the 
light which illuminates the earthly polis from 
the earthly ecclesia, through their mutual rela- 
tion. If the question of how this mutual 
relation can be explained is not actually answered 
by 1 Timothy ii. coupled with Revelation xxL, 
then a better explanation would have to be 
found. But in any case, as such, the pheno- 
menon cannot well be denied. 



IF we review the New Testament exhortations 
to Christians on the subject of their relation 
to the State, we are certainly justified in placing 
intercession (i Tim. ii.) in a central position, 
as being the most intimate of all, and the one 
which includes all others. But we must be 
careful to see just how all-inclusive this par- 
ticular exhortation is. Christians are called 
to offer * 'supplications, prayers, intercessions 
and thanksgivings" for all men, and in par- 
ticular for kings and all who are in positions of 
authority. Does the passage actually say less 
than this: that the Church has (not as one 
incidental function among others, but in the 
whole essence of its existence as a Church) to 
offer itself to God for all men, and in particular 
for the bearers of State power? But this 



"offering oneself for" all men means (for that 
is the significance of the vrrep) that the 
Church is fulfilling, on its side, that worship of 
God which men cannot and will not accom- 
plish, yet which must be accomplished. This 
intercession is necessary because from God 
alone can rulers receive and maintain that 
power which is so salutary for the Church, and, 
for the sake of the preaching of justification, so 
indispensable to all men. Far from being the 
object of worship, the State and its represen- 
tatives need prayer on their behalf In prin- 
ciple, and speaking comprehensively, this is the 
essential service which the Church owes to the 
State. This service includes all others. In so 
doing could the Church more clearly remind the 
State of its limits? or more clearly remind itself 
of its own freedom ? than in thus offering itself 
on its behalf? 0 

But this service must of course be rendered 
without asking whether the corresponding ser- 
vice owed by the State to the Church is also 
being given, and indeed without inquiring 
whether the individual bearers of State power 
are worthy of it. How could such inquiry be 


made before rendering a service of this kind? 
Clearly the service becomes all the more 
necessary the more negative the answer to the 
question; just as the nature of justification 
comes out still more clearly when we see that 
he who is "justified" is evidently a real and 
thorough sinner in the sight of God and man. 
Thus the more negative the answer to this 
question, the more urgently necessary is the 
priestly duty laid upon the Church; the most 
brutally unjust State cannot lessen the Church's 
responsibility for the State; indeed, it can only 
increase it. 

Our understanding of "Be in subjec- 
tion . . ."in Romans xiii. if. and the other 
passages, would have been better served if we 
had not regarded this particular exhortation in 
the abstract, but had considered it in its relation- 
ship to this first, primary exhortation. Can this 
"subjection," fundamentally, mean anything 
other than the practical behaviour on the part 
of the members of the Church which corre- 
sponds to the priestly attitude of the Church as 
such? "Be subject unto" (yTroraacreWal) 
does not mean directly and absolutely "to be 


subject to someone/' but to respect him as his 
office demands. We are here dealing with a 
subjection that is determined and conditioned 
by the framework within which it takes place, 
namely, by a definite rages (order). But the 
raft? (as in other passages in which the 
word occurs) is not set up by the persons 
concerned who are to be the objects of respect, 
but, according to v. 2, it is based on the ordin- 
ance of God. It is on the basis, then, of this 
divine ordinance that such respect must be 
shown. But in what way can this due respect 
be shown to the leaders of the State, unless 
Christians behave towards it in the attitude of 
mind which always expects the best from it — 
expects, that is, that it will grant legal protec- 
tion to the free preaching of justification — but 
which is also prepared — under certain cir- 
cumstances — to carry this*> preaching into prac- 
tice by suffering injustice instead of receiving 
justice, and thereby acknowledging the State's 
power to be, in one way or another, God-given? 
If Christians were not to do this, if they were to 
oppose this ordinance and thus to refuse the 
State authority the respect which is determined 



and limited by divine decree, then, according 
to v. 2, they would be opposing the will ojf 
God, and their existence within the sphere of 
the State would become their condemnation. 
If they neither reckoned with this positive 
divine claim of the State nor were prepared if 
need be to suffer injustice at its hands, then by 
that very fact they would belong to those evil 
ones who must fear its power, and towards 
whom, by the use of its sword and the power 
of compulsion that is granted to it, it could only, 
openly or secretly ( £ 'power as such is evil") be 
the force which executes the divine wrath, the 
dread manifestation of the perdition of this 
age (vv. 4- s ). 

But this respect for the authority of the State 
which is demanded in Romans xiii. must not 
be separated — in theory or in practice — from 
the priestly function «of the Church. It cannot 
possibly consist of an attitude of abstract and 
absolute elasticity towards the intentions and 
undertakings of the State, simply because, 
according not only to the Apocalypse, but also 
to Paul, the possibility may arise that the power 
of the State, on its side, may become guilty of 


opposition to the Lord of lords, to that divine 
ordinance to which it owes its power. If 
Christians are still to respect the State, even 
then, their docility in this instance can only be 
passive, and, as such, limited. The c 'subjec- 
tion" can in no case mean that the Church and 
its members will approve, and wish of their 
own free will to further, the claims and under- 
takings of the State, if once the State power is 
turned not to the protection but to the sup- 
pression of the preaching of justification. Even 
then Christians will never fail to grant that 
which is indispensable to the State power as 
guardian of the public law, as an ordained power 
— ' 'tribute to whom tribute is due, custom to 
whom custom, fear to whom fear, honour to 
whom (as representative and bearer of e^ovaia) 
honour — even if the State abuses this ££ovcrta 7 
and demonstrates its opposition, as a demonic 
power, to the Lord of lords. Even then, 
according to Matthew xxii. 21, Christians will 
render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, 
i.e. whatever is his due, not as a good or a bad 
Caesar, but simply as Caesar ; the right which is 
his, even if he turns that right to wrong. As 



has been shown, it is and remains a God- 
established i£;ovcria y and that which we owe 
it, even then, must not be withheld. But the 
fact also remains, unalterably, that Christians 
are to render unto God the things which are 
God's; and likewise, that the Church must be 
and must remain the Church. Thus the "sub- 
jection" required of Christians can not mean 
that they accept, and take upon themselves 
responsibility for those intentions and under- 
takings of the State which directly or indirectly 
are aimed against the freedom of preaching. 
Of course it must be understood that even then 
the "subjection" will not cease. But their 
submission, their respect for the power of the 
State to which they continue to give what they 
owe, will consist in becoming its victims, who, 
in their concrete action will not accept any 
responsibility, who /cannot inwardly co-operate, 
and who as "subjects" will be unable to conceal 
the fact, and indeed ought to express- it pub- 
licly, in order that the preaching of justification 
may be continued under all circumstances. 
All this will be done, not against the State, but 
as the Church's service Jor the State! Respect 


for the authority of the State is indeed an 
annexe to the priestly function of the Church 
towards the State. Christians would be neg- 
lecting the distinctive service which they can 
and must render to the State, were they to 
adopt an attitude of unquestioning assent to the 
will and action of the State which is directly or 
indirectly aimed at the suppression of the free- 
dom of the Word of God. For the possibility 
of intercession for the State stands or falls with 
the freedom of God's Word. Christians would, 
in point of fact, become enemies of any State 
if, when the State threatens their freedom, they 
did not resist, or if they concealed their resist- 
ance — although this resistance would be very 
calm and dignified. Jesus would, in actual fact, 
have been an enemy of the State if He had not 
dared, quite calmly, to call King Herod a "fox" 
(Luke xiii. 32). If the State has perverted its 
God-given authority, it cannot be honoured 
better than by this criticism which is due to it in 
all circumstances. For this power that has 
been perverted what greater service can we 
render than that of intercession? Who can 
render this service better than the Christian? 


And how could Christians intercede, if, by; 
themselves acquiescing in the perversion of the 
power of the State, they had become traitors to 
their own cause? And where would be their 
respect for the State if it involved such betrayal? 

Through this discussion of the ' 'subjection" 
of Romans xiii. i (in its connection with 
i Timothy ii. i) we have gained a fundamental 
insight into the nature of the service which the 
Church, as the organ of divine justification, owes 
to the State, as the organ of human law, which 
the State has a right to expect from it, and by 
which, if it remains obedient, it can actually 
assist the State. We have affirmed that there 
is a mutual guarantee between the two realms. 
We now ask: what is the guarantee which the 
Church has to offer to the State? 

After all that we have seen as constituting the 
relation between the two realms, the answer 
must be given: that apart from the Church, 
nowhere is there any fundamental knowledge of 
the reasons which make the State legitimate and 
necessary. For everywhere else, save in the 
Church, the State, and every individual state, 
with its concern for human justice, may be 


called in question. From the point of view of 
the Church that preaches divine justification to 
all men this is impossible. For in the view of 
the Church, the authority of the State is 
included in the authority of their Lord Jesus 
Christ. The Church lives in expectation of the 
eternal State, and therefore honours the earthly 
State, and constantly expects the best from it: 
i.e., that, in its own way amongst ' 'all men," it 
will serve the Lord whom the believers already love 
as their Saviour. For the sake of the freedom 
to preach justification the Church expects that 
the State will be a true State, and thus that it 
will create and administer justice. But the 
Church honours the State even when this 
expectation is not fulfilled. It is then defending 
the State against the State, and by rendering 
unto God the things that are God's, by obeying 
God rather than man, through its intercession 
it represents the only possibility of restoring the 
State and of saving it from ruin. States may 
rise and fall, political conceptions may change, 
politics as such may interest or may fail to 
interest men, but throughout all developments 
and all changes one factor remains, as the 


preservation and basis of all states — the Christian 
Church. What do statesmen and politicians 
themselves know of the authorization and the 
necessity of their function? Who or what can 
give them the assurance that this function of 
theirs is not, as such, an illusion, however 
seriously they may take it ? And further, what 
do those others know, whose responsibility for 
the State and its law the statesman alone can 
represent, and on whose co-operation they are 
finally so dependent! Just as divine justifica- 
tion is the continuum of law, so the Church is 
the political continuum. And to be this is the 
Church's first and fundamental service to the 
State. The Church need only be truly 
" Church," and it will inevitably render this 
service. And the State receives this service, 
and secretly lives by it, whether it knows and 
gratefully acknowledges it or not, whether it 
wishes to receive it or not. 

We only seem to be moving in a lower sphere 
when, turning again to Romans xiii. s-j, we 
note that the Church here demands from her 
members, with an insistence elsewhere unparal- 
leled, the fulfilment of those duties on the 


performance of which not merely the goodness 
or the badness of the State, but its very 
existence as a State depends. The fact that the 
right to impose rates and taxes belongs to the 
State, that its laws and their representatives 
should be honoured, as such, with all respect 
and reverence, can only be stated unreservedly 
and in a binding way from the standpoint of the 
divine justification of sinful man, because this 
provides the only protection against the sophisms 
and excuses of man, who is always so ready to 
justify himself and is always secretly trying to 
escape from true law. The Church knows that 
the State can neither establish nor protect true 
human law, <( ius unum et necessarium," that is, 
the law of freedom for the preaching of justi- 
fication, unless it receives its due from the 
Church, whereby alone it can exist as guarantor 
of law — that is why the Church demands that 
this due should be rendered in all circum- 

We would of course give a great deal to 
receive more specific instruction in Romans 
xiii. — and elsewhere in the New Testament 
— about what is, and what is not to be 


understood by these particular political duties 
towards the State which are expected of the 
Church. The questions which arise in this con- 
nection cannot be answered directly from the New 
Testament ; all that we can do is to give replies 
which are derived from the consideration of 
these passages by carrying the thought further 
along the same lines. 

Could Romans xiii. 7, for instance, also 
mean : * 4 an oath to whom an oath' ' ? Does the 
rendering of an oath, if demanded by the State, 
belong to those duties that must be fulfilled? 
The Reformers, as we know, answered this 
question in the affirmative, but on looking at 
Matthew v. 3 3 If., we could wish that they had 
given a little more thought to the matter. So 
much, at least, is certain, even if the question is 
answered in the affirmative, that an oath to the 
State cannot be giveu (with true respect for the 
State!) if it is a 4 'totalitarian" oath (that is, if 
it is rendered to a name which actually claims 
Divine functions). Such an oath would indeed 
imply that those who swear it place themselves 
at the disposition of a power which threatens 
the freedom of the Word of God ; for Christians, 


therefore, this would mean the betrayal of 
the Church and of its Lord. 

Again, is military service one of these self- 
evident duties to the State? The Reformers 
again answered this question in the affirmative, 
and again we could wish that they had done so 
with a little more reserve. Because the State 
"beareth the sword" (Rom. xiii.) it is clear 
that it participates in the murderous nature of 
the present age. Yet on this matter, at least 
in principle, we cannot come to a conclusion 
which differs from that of the Reformers. 
Human law needs the guarantee of human force. 
Man would not be a sinner in need of justifica- 
tion if it were otherwise. The State that is 
threatened from within or without by force 
needs to be prepared to meet force by force, 
if it is to continue to be a state. The Christian 
must have very real grounds for distrusting the 
State if he is to be entitled to refuse the State 
his service, and if the Church as such is to be 
entitled and called to say "No" at this point. 
A fundamental Christian "No" cannot be given 
here, because it would in fact be a fundamental 
"No" to the earthly State as such, which is 


impossible from the Christian point of view. 
And here I should like to add, in relation to the 
question of national defence in Switzerland in 
particular, that here, too, there can for us be no 
practical refusal of military service. We may 
have grave misgivings about the way in which 
the Swiss State seeks to be a just state, but, all 
the same, we cannot maintain that it confronts 
the Church like "the Beast out of the abyss" 
of Revelation xiii. But this may and should 
be said of more than one other State to-day, 
against which it is worth while to defend our 
own legal administration. And since this is the 
case, from the Christian point of view we are 
right in seeking to defend our frontiers; and 
if the State in Switzerland takes steps to organize 
this security (it is not inconceivable that the 
Church should give its support to the State in 
this matter) we cannot close our eyes to the 
question of how far the Church in Switzerland 
should stand in all surety behind the State (33). 

It is quite another question whether the 
State has any right to try to strengthen its 
authority by making any kind of inward claim 
upon its subjects and its citizens; that is,' 


whether it has any right to demand from them a 
particular philosophy of life (Weltanschauung), 
or- at least sentiments and reactions dominated 
by a particular view imposed by the State from 
without. According to the New Testament, 
the only answer to this question is an unhesi- 
tating 4 'No! 5 ' Claims of this kind can in no 
way be inferred from Romans xiii. ; they have 
no legal justification whatsoever. On the con- 
trary, here we are very near the menace of the 
4 'Beast out of the abyss" ; a just State will not 
require to make such claims. From Romans 
xiii. it is quite clear that love is not one of the 
duties which we owe to the State. When the 
State begins to claim "love" it is in process of 
becoming a Church, the Church of a false God, 
and thus an unjust State. The just State 
requires, not love, but, a simple, resolute, and 
responsible attitude on the"part of its citizens. 
It is this attitude which the Church, based on 
justification, commends to its members. 

Far more difficult, because far more funda- 
mental, is another apparent gap in the teaching 
of the New Testament. It lies in the fact that 
the New Testament seems to speak concretely 


only of a purely authoritative State, and so tp 
speak of Christians only as subjects, not as 
citizens who, in their own persons, bear some 
responsibility for the State. But it is to be 
hoped that the fulfilment of our political duty is 
not exhausted by the payment of taxes and other 
such passive forms of legality. For us the 
fulfilment of political duty means rather respon- 
sible choice of authority, responsible decision 
about the validity of laws, responsible care for 
their maintenance, in a word, political action, 
which may and must also mean political struggle. 
If the Church were not to guarantee the modern 
State the fulfilment of such duties, what would 
it have to offer the "democratic" State? 
Here, too, we must ask: are we following a 
legitimate line of expansion of the thought of 
Romans xiii. ? It may seem audacious to answer 
that question in th£ affirmative, yet it must be 
firmly answered in the affirmative. Everything 
here depends on whether we are justified in this 
connection in taking the "be subject unto" of 
Romans xiii. together with the exhortation to 
intercession in i Timothy ii. If the prayer of 
Christians for the State constitutes the norm of 


their ' "subjection," which would only be an 
u annexe" of the priestly function of the 
Church, and if this prayer is taken seriously as the 
responsible intercession of the Christians for the 
State, then the scheme of purely passive sub- 
jection which apparently — but only apparently 
— governs the thought of Romans xiii., is 
broken. Then the serious question arises: is 
it an accident that in the course of time c 'demo- 
cratic" States have come into being, States, 
that is, which are based upon the responsible 
activity of their citizens? (34) 

Can serious prayer, in the long run, continue 
without the corresponding work? Can we ask 
God for something which we are not at the 
same moment determined and prepared to bring 
about, so far as it lies within the bounds of our 
possibility? Can we pray that the State shall 
preserve us, and that it* may> continue to do so as 
a just State, or that it will again become a just 
State, and not at the same time pledge our- 
selves personally, both in thought and action, 
in order that this may happen, without sharing 
the earnest desire of the Scottish Confession (35-) 
and saying, with it: Ci Vitce bonorum adesse, 


tyrranidem opprimere, ab inflrmioribus vim im- 
proborum defendere," thus without, in certain 
cases, like Zwingli (36), reckoning with the 
possibility of revolution, the possibility, accord- 
ing to his strong expression, that we may have 
to 1 'overthrow with God" those rulers who do 
not follow the lines laid down by Christ? 
Can we give the State that respect which is its 
due without making its business our own, with 
all the consequences that this implies? When 
I consider the deepest and most central content 
of the New Testament exhortation, I should say 
that we are justified, from the point of view of 
exegesis, in regarding the "democratic con- 
ception of the State" as a justifiable expansion 
of the thought of the New Testament. This 
does not mean that the separation between 
justification and justice, between Church and 
State, the fact that Christians are "foreigners" 
in the sphere of the State, has been abolished. 
On the contrary, the resolute intention of the 
teaching of the New Testament is brought out 
still more plainly when it is clear that Christians 
must not only endure the earthly State, but that 
they must will it, and that they cannot will it as 


a "Pilate" State, but as a just State; when it is 
seen that there is no outward escape from the 
political sphere ; when it is seen that Christians, 
while they remain within the Church and are 
wholly committed to the future "city," are 
equally committed to responsibility for the 
earthly "city," called to work and (it may be) 
to struggle, as well as to pray, for it ; in short, 
when each one of them is responsible for the 
character of the State as a just State. And the 
democratic State might as well recognize that 
it can expect no truer or more complete ful- 
filment of duty than that of the citizens of the 
realm that is so foreign to it as a State — the 
Church founded on divine justification. 

There is one last point to be discussed con- 
cerning the guarantee that the Church has to 
grant to the State. We remember how the 
New Testament exhoHatiqn to a certain extent 
culminates in the affirmation that Christians 
should render unto Caesar the things that are 
Caesar's by their well-doing. But what does 
this mean if by this "well-doing" we under- 
stand not a neutral moral goodness, but a life 
lived in faith in Jesus Christ, the life of the 



Children of God, the life of the Church as 
such? It then means that the essential service^ 
of the Church to the State simply consists in 
maintaining and occupying its own realm as 
Church. In so doing it will secure, in the best 
possible way, the position of the State, which is 
quite different. By proclaiming divine justifi- 
cation it will be rendering the best possible 
assistance to the establishment and maintenance 
of human justice and law. No direct action 
that the Church might take (acting partly or 
wholly politically, with well-meaning zeal) 
could even remotely be compared with the 
positive relevance of that action whereby, 
without any interference with the sphere of the 
State, this Church proclaims the coming King- 
dom of Christ, and thereby the gospel of 
Justification through faith alone; I mean that 
its action consists in trite scriptural preaching, 
and teaching , and in the true and scriptural 
administration of the sacraments. When it per- 
forms this action the Church is, within the 
order of creation, the force which founds and 
maintains the State. If the State is wise, in the 
last resort it will expect and demand from the 


Church nothing other than this, for this includes 
'everything that the Church can render to the 
State, even all the political obligations of its 
members. And we can and may formulate the 
matter even more precisely: the guarantee of 
the State by the Church is finally accomplished 
when the Church claims for itself the guarantee 
of the State, i.e. the guarantee of freedom to 
proclaim her message. This may sound strange, 
but this is the case : all that can be said from the 
standpoint of divine justification on the question 
(and the questions) of human law is summed up 
in this one statement: the Church must have 
freedom to proclaim divine justification. The State 
will realize its own potentialities, and thus will 
be a just State, in proportion as it not merely 
positively allows, but actively grants, this free- 
dom to the Church; i.e., in proportion as it 
honourably and consistency desires to be the 
State within whose realm (whether as national 
Church or otherwise is a secondary question) 
the Church exists which has this freedom as its 
right. We know that the earthly State is 
neither called, nor able, to establish on earth 
the eternal law of the heavenly Jerusalem, 


because no human beings are either called, or 
able, to perform that task. But the State is 
called to establish human law, and it has the 
capacity to do so. We cannot measure what 
this law is by any Romantic or Liberalistic idea 
of "natural law," but simply by the concrete 
law of freedom, which the Church must claim 
for its Word, so far as it is the Word of God. 
This right of the Church to liberty means the 
foundation, the maintenance, the restoration of 
everything — certainly of all human law. Wher- 
ever this right is recognized, and wherever a 
true Church makes the right use of it (and the 
free preaching of justification will see to it that 
things fall into their true place) there we shall 
find a legitimate human authority and an 
equally legitimate human independence; tyranny 
on the one hand, and anarchy on the other, 
Fascism and Bolshevism alike, will b$ de- 
throned ; and the true order of human affairs — 
the justice, wisdom and peace, equity and care 
for human welfare which are necessary to that 
true order, will arise. Not as heaven (not 
even as a miniature heaven) on earth! No, this 
"true order" will only be able to arise upon 



this earth and within the present age, but this will 
take place really and truly already upon this 
e^rth, and in this present age, in this world of 
sin and sinners. No eternal Solomon, free 
from temptation and without sin, but none the 
less a Solomon, an image of Him whose Kingdom 
will be a Kingdom of Peace without frontiers 
and without end. This is what the Church 
has to offer to the State when, on its 
side, it desires from the State nothing but 
freedom. What more could the State require, 
and what could be of greater service to 
it than this — to be taken so inexorably 

We all know the maxim of Frederick the 
Great: Suum Cuique. It is a less well-known 
fact that it already appears as a definition of 
human law, as a summary of the functions of the 
just State, in Calvin's* Institutio: ut suum cuique 
salvum sit et incolume (37). But — this Cdlwin 
did not say, and this we must attempt to dis- 
cover and to learn anew : — it depends upon the 
justification of sinful man in Jesus Christ, and 
thus on the maintenance of this central message 
of the Christian Church, that all this should 



become true and valid in every sense, in the 
midst of this ''world that passeth away, 5 ' in the' 
midst of the great, but temporary contrast 
between Church and State, in the period which 
the Divine patience has granted us between the 
resurrection of Jesus Christ and His return: 
Suum cuique. 


(1) CF. the instructive composition of H. Obendiek: Die Obrigkeit 
nach dem Bekenntnis der reformierten Kirche, Munich, 1936. 

(2) Inst. IV,, 20, 1. 

(3) lb. 20, r, and 29. 

(4) lb. 20, 14. 

(5) Schlussreden t Art. 3 c. 

(6) Matt, xvii., dealing as it does with a Temple tax, does not 
really belong here. 

(7) The reader will do well to note that in this book one thing 
only is attempted: to move along the road of exegesis towards a 
better view of the problem " Church and State.*' It would in my 
opinion be a great advantage if some were to admit that such an 
attempt is necessary. 

(8) Theologischc Blatter , i93j t No. j. Since the completion of 
this work I have encountered Gerhard Rittel, Das Urteil des neuen 
Testaments uber den Staat (Zeitschr. f. Syst. Theol., 14 Jahrg. 1937, 
pp. 6$ 1— 680, published in June 1938). It throws no new light on 
the subject with which I am concerned. On p. 665 of the essay 
we are asked to consider carefully * 1 whether our exegesis is true 
exegesis, that is, whether its onty goal is to discover what is given in 
the text or whether the writer's own* wishes have — perhaps uncon- 
sciously — been introduced. ' ' Now, this is a warning that can always 
be heard to advantage. Only we are also entitled to ask for some 
restraint in their apostrophizing of others from those who cannot 
themselves be certain as to what they must, and what they may not, 
say on this subject. On p. 6$ 2, for example, the statements and 
the omissions on the subject of the "Fremdstaat" and the "Volks- 
staat" may well be as closely related to the "wishes" of the author 
as to those of certain "principalities and powers." 

(9) In the following passage I have found Calvin's views on the 




sub Poatio Pilato of the creed most illuminating. The passage is 
actually set in a quite different context. 

Pourquoy n'est il diet simplement en un mot qu'il est mort, mah 
est parte" de Ponce Pilate, soutsz lequel il a souffert ? 

Cela n'est pas seulement pour nous asseurer de la certitude de 
I'bistoire; mais aussi pour signifier, que sa mort emporte condemna- 

Comment cela? 

II est mort, pour souffrir la peine qui nous estoit deue, et par ce 
moyen nous en delivrer. Or pource que nous estions coulpaMes 
devant ie jugement de Dieu comme mal-faicteurs: pour representer 
nostre personne, il a voulu comparoistre devant le siege d'un iqge 
terrien, et estre condamne par la bouche d'iceluy: pour nous 
absoudre au throne du Juge celeste. 

Neantmoins Pilate le prononce innocent et ainsi il ne le condamne 
pas, comme s'il en estoit digne (Mattb. xxvii. 24; Luc. xxiii. 14). 

II y a Tun et l'autre. C'est qu'il est iustifie par le temoignage du 
iuge, pour monstrer, qu'il ne souffre point pour ses demerites, mais 
pour les nostres: et cependant est condamne solennellement par la 
sentence d'iceluy mesme, pour denoter, qu'il est vrayment nostre 
pleige, recevant la condamnation pour nous afin de nous en acquiter. 

C'est bien dit. Car s'il estoit pecheur il ne seroit pas capable de 
souffrir fa mort pour les autres: et neantmoins, afin que sa con- 
damnation nous soit delivrance, il faut qu'il soit repute entre les 
iniques (Jes. liii. 12). 

Je Pen tens ainsi. 

(Catechisme de l'Eglise de Geneve, 1542. Bekenntnisschriften far 
nach Gottes Wort refoimierter Kircheo, Munich, 1937^ Vol. I., 


(10) << Archontes ,> is the title given in Rom. xiii. 3 to the officials 
of the State I 

(11) In view of this passage, it seems to me impossible to say, as 
does Schlier (Die Beurteilung des Staates im neuen Testament y 1932, 
p. 312): "The earthly State cannot possibly pronounce judgment 
on this Kingdom and its representatives." It was clearly called to do 
so through the synagogue of the old Covenant (and, in the sense in 
which the Gospels use the words, it was certainly called to do so 
"non sine deo"). 


> v 

i {12) It is not correct to say that Jesus "fell a victim to a political 
charge." (G. Dehn, "Engel und Obrigkeit," Theologische Aufs'dtze, 
1536, p. 91.) 

'(•J I am indebted to Professor Ernst Wolf of Halle for the follow- 
ing: ' 'On Ash Wednesday the Emperor kisses and gives gifts to the 
children of his orphanages; later in the procession, in the presence 
of the whole people, he enfeoffs or rather burdens the Minister of 
Justice with the 'Inkwell of Pilate,' and as he lays it on the neck 
of the bowing man he says 'Judge with justice like him." ' A direct 
reminder of the scrupulously correct behaviour of Roman justice in 
matters pertaining to this mystery did not seem to the successors in 
the Imperium Romanum out of place in Holy Week; to Syrians and 
Abyssinians the "Landpfleger" and his spouse Procla were almost 
holy beings. ("Sir Galahad," Byzanz. Von Kaisern, Engeln und 
Eunuchen, 1937, E. P. Tal and Co., Vienna, pp. 87-88.) 

(14) G. Dehn, op. cit., pp. 97 and 106. 

(is) Adv. o.h. V. 24, 1. 

(16) Was H. Schher ("Machte und Gewalten im neuen Testa- 
ment," Theologischc Blatter, 292) the first to express this? G. Dehn 
was in any case the first to develop the argument to any great extent. 

(17) And according to Rom. viii. 39 (ovt€ tls ktigis irepa) 
we may not be far from the truth of the matter in describing the 
State as an avOpcoTrivr) ktlgls (i p et. ii. 13). 

(18) Cf. G. Dehn, op. cit., p. 108. 

(19) Cf. H. Schlier, "Vom Antichrist," Thcologische Aufsatze, 
1936, p. nof. ♦ 

(20) I am surprised that G. Dehn (6p. cit., p. 101) maintains the 
opposite point of view. 

(21) With H. Schlier, Macbte and Gewalten, op. cit., p. 291. 

(22) Probably Col. i. 26 may also belong here. 

(23) Political events of the last decades have introduced into New 
Testament exegesis on this matter a certain pessimism which seems 
to me not to be justified by the actual facts of the case. The State 
of Rev. xiii. is, as H, Schlier (Die Beurteilung des Staates, op. cit., 
p. 329) rightly maintains, "the borderline of the possible State." 



(24) Up to the present the koltIx ov ^ Kari^v of 2 Thess^ii.^ 
6ff. have been taken to indicate that function of the Roman State 
which works against the Antichrist. Had this interpretation nttt 
been "unfortunately" shattered by O. Cullmann, this passage 
would also have to be considered here. (Ic caractere eschaiologique 
du devoir nussionaire et de la conscience apostohque de St. Paul. Recherches 
theologiques, Strasbourg, 1936, pp. 26-61.) 

(2 c) With H. Schlier, Die Beurteilung des Staates, op. cit., p. 323. 

(26) With G. Dehn, op. cit., p. 99. 

(27) Cf. K. L. Schmidt, op. cit., p. 8. 

(28) Die Beurtedung des Staatcs, op. cit., p. 320. 

(29) Strom. IV., 171, 2. 

(30) De civ. Dei II., 21. 

(31) With H. Schlier, Die Beurteilung des Staates, op. cit., p. 32^. 

(32) In Rom. xv. 16 and Phil. ii. 2 c Paul describes himself and 
his fellow-worker Epaphroditus as Xetrovpyov Irjcrov ^piorov els 
ra edvrj; in Heb. i. 2 the name is given to the angels of God and 
in Heb. viii. 2 to Christ Himself! 

(33) It is obvious that the same is also true of the Church in 
Czechoslovakia, in Holland, in Denmark, in Scandinavia, in France 
and, above all, in England. 

(34) Under this category it is proper to include also such 
"monarchies" as those of England and Holland. The assertion that 
all forms of government are equally compatible or incompatible wi? 
the Gospel is not only outworn but false. It is true that a man m 
go to hell in a democracy, and achieve salvation under a mobocrac 
or a dictatorship. But it is not true that a Christian can endorse, 
desire or seek after a mobocracy or a dictatorship as readily as a 

( 3 r) Art. 14. 

(36) Schlussreden, Art. 42. 

(37) Inst. IV., 20, 3. And, as was kindly pointed out to me by 
Dr. Arnold Eberhard of Lorrach, there is no doubt that Calvin was 
on his side quoting Ulpian and Cicero.